Judge Perilloux pleads not guilty to felony counts of indecent behavior

Published 3:40 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish Judge E. Jeffrey Perilloux pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of indecent behavior and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery Thursday afternoon at the East Bank Courthouse Annex in LaPlace.

Perilloux deferred comment to his attorney, David Courcelle, who said his client would continue to defend himself against allegations.

“Judge Perilloux has continued to maintain he has done nothing improper,” Courcelle said. “He is confident that by the end of this case, he will be cleared of all charges.”

During Thursday’s arraignment, Perrilloux received approval to attend a religious event for one of his children in September, where alleged victims are expected to be present.

Under the terms of his bail, Perilloux is not permitted to have direct contact with the alleged victims or their family members.

Thursday’s court proceeding lasted approximately 15 minutes, without Perilloux addressing the judge at any point. His attorney entered the plea.

Following the proceeding, Perilloux, dressed in a blue suit jacket and tie, avoided interaction with the media by saying “not at this time” when asked to comment on the case.

On June 25, a grand jury returned a four-count true bill indictment charging Perilloux with multiple felony counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile under the age of 17 with a greater age difference than two years.

Felony charges involve contact that happened between May and June 2017 with two alleged victims.

A misdemeanor sexual battery charge alleges Perilloux touched a victim’s breasts through her clothing without her consent in December 2017.

Prosecuting attorney Matthew Derbes, representing the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, said extensive video evidence in the pre-trial discovery could require more than a single court day to review.

Discovery has been set for 9 a.m. Sept. 18 at the Courthouse Annex in LaPlace, with a carry-over date set for Sept. 19 at the Edgard Courthouse.

While leaving the courthouse, Derbes confirmed to a media member that it has not been decided whether the case will develop into a judge or jury trial.

Perilloux has been on leave from the bench since voluntarily stepping down May 16 following published accounts of multiple criminal investigations into his behavior with underage females.

Judge Mary Hotard Becnel was appointed ad hoc and is handling the duties of 40th Judicial District Court Division B during Perilloux’s leave.

Perilloux was elected judge in December 2016 and began serving the following month following an election to fill the unexpired term of departing Judge Becnel.

The 40th Judicial District Court covers St. John Parish and is divided into three divisions. The general jurisdiction court hears civil, criminal, traffic, juvenile, family and probate matters.

Perilloux previously served for a dozen years as an assistant district attorney in St. John Parish. He was also a legal counsel representative for St. John the Baptist Parish Government.

Perilloux was arrested in 2010 for drunken driving, an arrest that included dash-cam footage of Perilloux telling State Police “I am the parish attorney. I’m not some lowlife.”

The DWI charge was expunged, and prosecutors did not pursue additional charges.